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Serving Sri Lanka

This web log is a news and views blog. The primary aim is to provide an avenue for the expression and collection of ideas on sustainable, fair, and just, grassroot level development. Some of the topics that the blog will specifically address are: poverty reduction, rural development, educational issues, social empowerment, post-Tsunami relief and reconstruction, livelihood development, environmental conservation and bio-diversity. 

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Sri Lanka focuses on needs of over five million poor

Sunday Island: 15/05/2005"

Kandy, May 15 — Sri Lanka’s plans to better the lot of over five million poor battered by the tsunami and the ethnic conflict are the highlight of a ground-breaking study to be released this week at the first-ever aid forum to be hosted here.

Persistent problems dogging the plantation sector, the embattled regions of the north and east and other rural areas are set against a backdrop of steady progress in lowering infant and maternal mortality and achieving significant education goals for children.

"There are about five million people living in poverty in Sri Lanka, perhaps more," says the report, noting that if statistics from districts affected by the decades-long separatist war had been available, poverty figures would be much higher.

The Millennium Development Goals Report spotlights the disparity in development and the growing poverty in inland rural areas and the coastal belt affected by the 26 December 2004 sea surges.

Despite the slow pace of development on some fronts, the island boasts of high literacy rates with some 85 percent of youngsters between 6 and 10 years enrolled in school and high numbers of both girls and boys having access to free primary and secondary education.

The analysis, the first of its kind to be drafted by the government under the co-ordination of the National Council for Economic Development, assesses the United Nations’ target of halving poverty in Sri Lanka by the year 2015 and will be the yardstick by which the country can measure the success of long and short-term strategies.

The wide-ranging survey, supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), covers eight broad areas of development goals and is a ready reference point for data on the state of the economy, aid flows, health and education indicators, water, sanitation and the environment and infrastructure growth.

"Sri Lanka has long been at the forefront of human development among developing countries. Access to health and education is widespread and the results have been impressive," said Miguel Bermeo, the UNDP’s resident representative in Sri Lanka. "But the tsunami disaster and the two-decade internal conflict have raised tremendous challenges."

Fast-track projects funded by foreign aid are expected to alleviate the impact of the tsunami on the thousands of people who were affected. The government’s focus is trained on developing housing, roads, railways and other infrastructure and on generating job opportunities for them.

Among the issues raised in the report are the fight against HIV/AIDS and malaria, the environment, the participation of women in government and public life and regional and international trade.

The report is to be presented at the two-day Sri Lanka Development Forum conclave beginning Monday in Kandy where over 100 representatives of donor nations and agencies are set to gather. (UNDP)

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